1. FM, your lab shows that Neiman Marcus almost always pays out portal miles for gift card purchases. I have personal experience for this from a year ago as well. However, I bought a $1000 e-gift card on 11/28 and still have not gotten any AA miles. I know NM can be a little slow paying out, but I don’t remember them being this slow. I also know larger amounts typically take longer. Do you think it’s likely that orders $1000 and up require manual review, and thus they saw my gift card order doesn’t qualify? This was when NM AWAS 12x, so I’m looking at losing out on 12k AA miles. My $375 Saks gift card order from 12/11 already posted.

    • I think it is likely that it is simply taking longer since its such a large order. With Sears, for example, I’ve had to wait as long as 4 weeks for large orders like these. I’d recommend being patient and look for the miles in January. If they’re not there by then you can worry 🙂

  2. Is 1-800-Flowers still doing any promotions with Rapid Rewards? I could not find any updates on your blog since December 1st when you indicated that RR57 is no longer a valid promotion. Also, I went through the steps to order flowers just to see how the promotions work and right below the box for the “promotion code” is a box for “membership (if required)”. Is the second box where you would theoretically enter your Rapid Rewards membership number?

  3. Hi. I recently discovered softcard, a way to pay using your phone linked to a credit card. Since I started in November there have been promotions where I have received $100 in amazon egift cards. Recently I got a promotion to link my Chase Mileage Plus card, use it once by Dec 31 and get 500 miles and use it once for next 3 months and also get 500 miles each time. These two promotions end December 31 but I have been pleased with them, and am able to spend small sums at McDonalds (coffee) and a few other places to get these credits.
    One more thing I found during recent online shopping–if you have an Amex card you can get free 2 day shoprunner shipping.
    Don’t know if these things are of interest.

  4. Evolve Money. I saw your post and also the earlier info in June about new features coming to make it easy to pay mortgages, car loans etc. I just came on your info today and when I went to their site it looks like they have tightened up with only one credit to an account each month and only up to $999. So looks like they are taking this opportunity away. Any update from what you and others know about what is happening with the service? Only interested in using it for the two large expenses that are not now eligible for points etc. Thanks for any update.


  5. What is the best forum to get help booking my family vacation with miles? Also 1 quick ? When you book the marriot packages where you get 50,000 miles for airfare, do I have to use that 50k for that trip or will it just bank into my account?

    • Sorry I somehow didn’t see this comment until now. I don’t know the answer to your question about the best forum for that. Milepoint or FlyerTalk may have threads that would be helpful. For the Marriott packages, no you do not have to use the miles on the same trip. They just go to your frequent flyer account.

  6. Have you heard of any case in which payout was declined because a non-Discover card was used? I’m going to buy Saks gift cards so if I don’t get cash back, I don’t think I can appeal regardless of card used.

  7. MileagePlus X App. Do you know if linking my Chase Ink Card with the app, then buying Visa/Mastercard Gift Cards at Staples or Office Max get me 5X points with Chase on top of the miles I getting going throught the MileagePlus App?

    • You’ll get the miles but you probably won’t be able to buy visa/mc gift cards. The app is just an easy way to buy store gift cards and to get miles for doing so. Since Staples and Office Max don’t let people buy gift cards with gift cards, you won’t be able to pay with the MileagePlus App (unless you get a friendly cashier at Staples)

  8. I made a couple large GC purchases on Saks via Discover portal using Citi credit cards. I’m new to Discover. I recently got an email showing that my cash back is pending, and that the cash back will take 6-8 weeks before it finalizes. I suppose this is the standard protocol. Does it really take that long? At this point, is there any realistic chance that the cash back will be denied due to 1) not using Discover card, and 2) buying Saks GC? Thanks

  9. Great site, I’ve been glued to it for days, thanks!

    Quick question from someone relatively new to all this…

    I’m still working full time with plans to retire in a couple years. Until then, i hope to take 2-3 trips per year. Given my time constraints, I’m trying to come up with an optimal strategy, since time is short.
    Seems like rather than signing up for all airline reward programs (regardless of whether I might actually even fly on several of these) – I might better be served by trying to collect points through Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, since they have partnerships and allow transfer and i would have more flexibility to fly on a particular airline only when I know which one and where I am going..rather than blindly signing up for every one and spreading my spending too thin.?? Better to accumulate (especially since I am not a big spender) in one or two – most likely to use places, than a shot gun approach? am I on the right track with my thinking?
    Similarly, with hotel programs? Thanks for any feedback, I hope I have explained my question clearly enough.

    • For earning points & miles from credit cards and portals: I agree completely. Focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. If you actually fly an airline or stay in a chain hotel, there is no reason not to sign up for their rewards program and earn miles or points. Also, sometimes there are especially good or limited time deals for airline miles that are worth getting now. One good example is the 50K US Airways offer.

  10. How are you? I have a question about Redcard. Can we still add money by credit card? I think many people wants to know clearly. Thanks.

    Here is what they say:

    Add money: Once you register your Card, you can continue to add money using Direct Deposit, linking a debit card or bank account, or by adding cash for free at any U.S. Target store.

  11. Hi! I am curious about something. My father has the same last name as me and I had him open a delta gold card and link it to my FF account so I would get the points. I am curious if I open a card and link it to the same FF account will I still get the points? Or would I have to close my fathers account first?

    Also, is it possible to have other people (without the same name) open a card and link it to you FF as well?

    • My guess is that you would get the miles in the same account, but I’m not sure. Some credit cards are better than others at preventing people from giving other people’s frequent flyer numbers. To be safe you could setup a new Delta account for yourself, get miles in that from the new credit card, then call Delta to say that you accidentally setup two accounts and need to merge them.

  12. FM, I placed 2 orders for Saks physical gift cards on 2/19, when AA had 15x. Yesterday, the second of the 2 orders posted, for a single $500 GC. The order I placed about 6-7 hours earlier (4x $400 GC) has NOT posted. I’ve made several Saks GC orders in the past 4 months, and always gotten miles/cash back, so I know the process. 24K miles is a lot. In my experience, payouts for orders placed on the same day always post at the same time. At this point, what can I doubt I’ll get the 24K miles for the first order? I took screenshots of every step, but the portals do say no miles for GC purchases.

    • Yes, you might be out of luck, but I’d still recommend patience. I have had it happen where points are awarded on different days — sometimes even weeks later — for purchases made the same day.

      • You’ve had points post at different times for purchases made the on same day, same portal and same online store? I REALLY hope that’s what happens. 24k!

  13. Hi, just curious what airlines you recommend trying to bank miles from if your hub is DTW? It seems like airlines other than Delta are easier to acquire miles for, but would you always be stuck doing multi-stop trips for those? If you want simplicity, do you pretty much have to concentrate on Delta? Thanks!

    • It’s hard to answer that without more information about your preferences, goals, how you earn miles, etc. Personally, I collect miles in multiple programs so that I always have enough for any given situation. I do like Delta for non-stop flights and a very solid in-air product. Best is to collect points in transferable points programs: Amex membership rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest. That way, you can transfer points to the airline you want to book awards with when (and only when) you actually need the miles.

  14. I just got an email saying that softcard was bought by google and would be shutdown March 31st. Will serve still work for loading with cc and if so, for how much?

  15. I plan on purchasing a fairly large amount of Target e-gift cards via the AA portal, but I want to be confident that the miles will post. I know from recent experience that the 2x Alaska miles will post, but for some reason, some of my cash back portals did not post for me. If Alaska portal posts, is that pretty much a sure thing that AA will post?

  16. Delta awards are cheaper with hidden city ticketing.

    Look at 3/18 (no status):
    DTW-MSP-CVG cost = 12.5K miles
    EXACT SAME DTW-MSP flight if try to book alone = 32.5k miles


  17. In Kroger today (Houston) buying Visa GCs. Customer Service checker looked at a new memo – assuming from corporate – and said now any GC sales $2000 and over have to be done with cash. Last month I could buy up to $10,000 with a CC. I bought $1998. Just an FYI – don’t know if anyone else getting this too.

  18. I’m new to miles and points and am slowly recognizing the value the more I read the advice from all the BoardingArea blogs! My ultimate goal is to get out and travel and can achieve that with a flexible work schedule. With that in mind, I’m set to earn AA Exp by July. I just signed up and was immediately approved for the Citi HHilton Reserve card (I got it for the status and free nights @ signup). That’s when I started reading a lot of blogs on credit cards – points and miles.

    The cards I have in mind are the Hyatt Card (for the signup bonus, free night/anniversary, and status); the Chase Sapphire Preferred (for the signup bonus and points – that will probably be forwarded to Hyatt) and the Citi Aadvantage Platinum Select (to American, of course). Of these Citi and Chase cards, which do you recommend I apply for first? Shall I wait a couple of months in between applying for cards or do I sign up for more than one at the same time? And if denied, how soon can I reapply? Thanks!

    • You can sign up for several at once. Just make sure that you’re able to meet the minimum spend requirements. It should be possible to sign up for all 3 of the cards you mentioned in one day if you’d like to. For details about earning points through credit card signups, please sign up for my free newsletter:

  19. Hey, you live in Ann Arbor, correct? I went to the Target on Carpenter Rd this evening to reload my RedCard and they told me that they are no longer taking credit card reloads. Have you had this experience yet? I am so depressed about it, and I wasn’t sure if I should contact Target and tell them how frustrating this is.

  20. I thought I would just offer my experience. This was weird. I used my Chase Ink to purchase Sears gift cards from GiftCardMall on eBay when there was the 20% off sale. Chase coded that purchase as a cash advance (no idea why). I was charged a $15.00 fee for that purchase as well. I am sure it will be easy to fix this with Chase, but it is something to watch out for. I’ve purchased plenty on eBay before and I am really surprised this happened.

    • Thanks for sharing this. I have read a few reports of exactly this happening to others. It’s really bizarre. I don’t know why buying gift cards on eBay would ever be treated as a cash advance. Apparently this happens only when GiftCardMall is the seller.

  21. FM, I have the legacy Citi Forward that gets 5x on dining and bookstores. I know when the card came out, Amazon counted as bookstores but I didn’t care because I could buy Amazon GC at office stores and get 5 UR instead. Now that TYP are better, I want to use my Forward, but I vaguely recall that Amazon no longer counted as a bookstore for 5x Forward. I did some searching online, and there’s a lot of stuff about this from 2013. I thought I read this more recently, and maybe the 2013 talk is when the card was discontinued. Any final word? Thanks

  22. Earning points/rewards for paying my mortgage has been getting harder and harder and now it’s impossible. I had a Bluebird- lovely when I could load it with vanilla reloads up to 5K a month and pay my 2K mortgage payement with the Bluebird bill pay. Vanilla beans went away so I switched to Serve and had to settle for 1K per month loading using my Barclays Arrival card- at least I got 2 points per dollar to pay half my mortgage. Then Serve and Bluebird stopped accepting anything other than American Express cards for credit card load. OK, no problem, I’ll use my Delta Skymiles Amex reserve to load the 1K credit card limit on my Serve. – at least it will help me meet my 30K spend on the Reserve and I’ll get my 15K Skymiles and Qualification Miles bonus and be exempt from Medallion Qualification Dollar requirement. WRONG!! I just spoke with customer service- I knew you didn’t get any SkyMiles for using the Reserve to load Serve but I read that it does count toward annual spend. When I got my Amex reserve statement after using my Reserve to load Serve for the first time in April-not only did I not get any Sky Miles for that (expected) it did not reflect the 1000 dollars I loaded to my Serve in the annual spend count. I called Amex and they confirmed that it doesn’t count. At least there was not cash advance fee charged.
    But something is strange, when I go to Delta.dumb and check my annual spend, it says 12-13K spent when the statement I go says 11.1 K spent year to date. I only have 200 bucks in charges since the statement closed so it looks like the Delta website is giving me credit for the 1K load but the reserve statement says otherwise. What is going on?

  23. Dear FM, Which AMEX card would you recommend as my fourth AMEX card (assuming that I am only allowed to maintain four AMEX CCs)? I currently have the Platinum, SPG and the E’day Preferred. FYI, I do not have the Chase Hilton card yet (waiting on a 2 night redemption opportunity in late 2016) and I am not a fan of Delta’s Skypeso program but I will follow your recommendation. Many thanks!

    • You are allowed up to 4 Amex credit cards plus any number of charge cards. The Platinum card is a charge card. So, you can actually get up to 2 more credit cards if you want. I just learned that the Hilton Surpass card 80K offer is still available via a phone call to Amex, so that could be a good choice. You can always downgrade it later to a no fee Hilton card if you want to. If you like cash back and can spend a lot at grocery stores, apply for the “Old” Blue Cash card.

  24. I learned about the Nationwide VISA Buxx from you while in San Diego. I believe you said you have 4 cards. A few questions:

    Do you fund all 4 cards with the same CC?

    Are there any cards that post as a CA instead of a purchase?

    Since each card is the same name, SSN, DOB, etc. as the others how does this not raise a red flag???

    • 1) Yes, I fund with the same credit card, but I have run into a snag where I’ve only been able to fund 2 of the 4 cards even when I try different credit cards. So, I don’t recommend doing more than 2.
      2) I don’t think that any cards post as a CA. Citi is safe, in my experience, for example.
      3) It just hasn’t come up as an issue.

  25. FM, I recently went through a fiasco with Hyatt and the Baha mar resort and they are sending me a check to replace my southwest airline miles. I could either keep the money or I could purchase the miles right now because they are on sale with the 50% bonus, and spend about 1/3 less then what they are giving me. So my question is, is the 50% sale a good deal that I should take advantage of? I could use these miles for a trip next year and transfer my chase miles to hyatt for the resort instead of SW.

  26. Can I purchase $500 Visa or Master Card Gift cards, and load them into my Target Redbird as a debit card? I have three new cards that I need to spend $7000 on. I was out of the country when the May 6th deadline hit. Help!

  27. What’s a decent airline award search tool?
    I just bought ExpertFlyer but it doesn’t include all the important airlines for USA to South Africa. I bought the KVS tool and it likewise doesn’t allow much unless I have credentials and it seems impossibly complex.

    I am willing to pay for an award service but as I have tons of flexibility and miles it seems I shouldn’t need to.

    United is fine but I can’t get away from the extra cost for a stopover …

    Any ideas would help.

  28. I have read most of this site all about GCs. Now I have only a couple questions. I got the serve and I can’t find $500 gift cards at any staples or OfficeMax, is it worth branching out?
    Also, I loaded my serve and then took the money out of the arm as cash, and deposited it to my local bank, is this bad?

  29. Dear FM,

    Like many recently I was declined last week by Chase for the “Freedom Credit Card” due to the very lame “too many credit card apps over two years” excuse despite having an 800+ credit score, a 35 year spotless CC credit history and my last two apps were the Chase SP and the (expensive) Ritz-Carlton cards within the past seven months (Seven total apps in the last 24 months).

    Therefore, what is the best strategy to reapply for the Chase Freedom card? Should I wait six months with no further CC apps and hope that Chase Bank has retreated from their Club Carlson/Delta-like “we really dislike our loyal customers” abrupt-turnaround display – or should I simply write-off Chase for the next two-three years? Frankly, I would prefer not to encounter another “negative outcome” hard pull on my credit score (with Chase) that all other credit card issuing banks clearly have had no problems with over the last three plus decades.

    Many thanks.

    • I can’t really say what the best strategy is for you, but here are some options:

      1. Forget about getting Ultimate Rewards cards. Sign up for easier to get cards instead. Or:
      2. Try to product change from another Chase card to Freedom. Or:
      3. Wait a while without doing any credit card signups before trying again. I have no idea how long “a while” needs to be. My guess is that 12 months would be incredibly safe, and that 6 months would be reasonably safe.

    • Its impossible to say without knowing your travel patterns. Even then, I haven’t really studied that particular question! That said, if you often fly long distance cheap flights, AA is a good choice.

  30. FM,
    This may sound silly, but I am thinking of getting a Kohl’s credit card. Is there any particular time that’s better to get the card? I don’t have anything in mind to buy at this time, but want to get it now so that when the time comes, I can use the card.

  31. Hi Greg, I wanted to buy some more $200 Visa gift cards at Staples, but got a message that they were discontinued. Do you think this is temporary or is this pretty much the end of the usefulness of the Ink card? Thanks!

  32. I sent a referral for my IT card to my girlfriend, who was accepted for my card using my referral. When I check my referral status page, it shows the “click” under her email, but nothing for “opened”. Isn’t “opened” to reflect an account opening?

  33. My discover card on wallet now states the gift cards do not qualify for the 10%. I took a picture. Is the gig up before it got started? Dont know how to attach a picture to these comments.

  34. FM have you seen the new British airways card with 100k possible bonus yet? It seems like its too good to be true. I just opened the Citi Thank you card a few weeks ago, but I really would love 100k miles, should I jump on it right away or will it be around in a month?

    • Yes, it is on my Best Offers page. Keep in mind that it requires $20,000 spend to get the full 100K bonus. I don’t know for sure, but I’d guess that the offer will be around for a couple of months.

      • Good, the spend isn’t a problem sounds like a great deal. I may need to close another chase card though. Maybe I will wait a month to jump on it. Thanks for the help.

  35. Can you use a CC to buy a car or pay for a portion of it? I am thinking of getting the card with the 100k Avios offer and using it for a large portion of my car purchase. Should knock out the spend in no time sending me on my way toward the companion pass thing.

  36. If I book a Hilton through visa signature, am I able to attach my honors number? Would I still get credit for the current weekend triple points promo?

  37. Thought I’d share my gift card nightmare as a cautionary tale…..

    I purchased two $50 Target gift cards from on 8/3. On 8/4 I received the standard email that they had shipped. Typically this is followed up within a day with the egift card email from Unfortunately this didn’t happen.

    I let the country for Italy and upon return home on 8/20 I contacted Staples. Still no card. Contacted them again. They referred me to Gift Card Mall. I had to call them three times and finally on 8/27 I received a customer support email with links to the gift cards. I loaded these to my Target mobile account. A few days later when I went to use them, these e-gift cards had changed status and showed with no value as “Force Closed.”

    Target states that a “third party vendor” (GCM) reported them as lost or stolen. Gift Card Mall says they are viable numbers and there are no issues with the cards and that they would not report cards stolen. Long story short, I’ve spent at least 50 hours on the phone over the last month-and-a-half and have gotten nowhere. Gift Card Mall says I am incorrect, the cards are valid, and if I have an issue call Target. Target says since they didn’t issue the cards they can do nothing, so call Gift Card Mall. Gift Card Mall says call Staples. Staples says all they do is take payment, so call Gift Card Mall. Each and every vendor is doing nothing but passing the buck. But the worst part is that Gift Card Mall has been quite rude and abrupt in their replies and not at all willing to even discuss this with me. My suggestion to each and every vendor has been to get on the phone and talk to each other (hey Target, call Gift Card Mall), but no one is willing to do that, no one ever follows up as promised and I never get any calls back. So every time I contact any of the vendors I am basically starting over.

    So here I am with two “stolen” gift cards. Let’s hope Chase will help since in theory I did not receive my merchandise. Or perhaps I should initiate a police report since I was sold “stolen” merchandise?

      • Staples supplied Chase with my purchase details, so Chase sided with Staples and denied my dispute. It doesn’t matter if Staples ever sends me valid gift cards, as long as they can show proof that I made the purchase?! I will continue to fight this, but it’s a cautionary tale for those of us who purchase gift cards regularly.

  38. I’ve been buying Vanil Visa GC at CeeV for a long time and been loading my Serve card at Fam Dollar. 2 days ago it did not work. It was “declined” by the checkout POS. I did see they have a new reminder message on the cashier’s screen saying they should not accept or load card through the phone, etc… Not sure if they upgrade their system to decline Vanil Visa. However I was able to load with Vanil MC. You’ve heard anything?

  39. I have been following a number of mileage blogs for a few years now and let me say, FM is consistently the most informative and timely with the best organized and clear information. Your ability to quantify and present economic benefits of various programs is second to none. Keep up the excellent work. ( I try to use your signup links whenever possible to show my support)

    Now my question. What are the ramifications of a “Hidden City” move using a SWA companion pass?

    I’m flying SAT-LAS-SLC on a Rapid Rewards fare with my named companion flying free. Can my companion get off in LAS, abandon her LAS-SLC segment, and not have any blowback from SWA to her or me?


    • Thanks, Doug, I appreciate the kind words!
      I haven’t heard of anyone having trouble with what you propose (the combo of dumping the last leg as a companion on Southwest). On the other hand, I bet its not too common. I would feel completely safe doing that (as long as she doesn’t check bags, of course!), but I’m not basing it on any evidence.

  40. I’m new to all of this but I am starting to fly every week. My flights are only 1:30 tops all around the southwest. I have an AMEX green corporate card. What is the best airline and way to gain status the quickest? I’m assuming i’ll gain status through segments and not total miles. Is there a way to use my green AMEX to help build points? Any suggestions on how to maximize my all my short travel still using my corporate card? Any help is appreciated!!

    • When using your corporate card to buy flights, you won’t earn points from the purchase (unless you’re specifically enrolled in a program that allows that), but you’ll still earn miles from flying as long as your frequent flyer number is attached to your reservation. I don’t think your green card will help in any particular way. My advice is to simply pick an airline that is most convenient for most of your flights and stick to that as much as possible. Since you’re flying mostly short flights, the move of airlines towards rewarding miles based on price paid rather than distance may actually be good for you. Also pay attention to airline partnerships. For example, If you pick AA as your primary airline and fly their partner Alaska, you can put in your AA number so as to earn miles and elite credit for flying their partner.

  41. Just about to start closing my first round of credit cards. What is the order of operations/procedure to consolidate UR points? My wife and I both have a Sapphire account, and I have an Ink Business Plus account. I would like all the points eventually in the same account so I can close the extras. Thanks, and happy new year!

    • You should be able to simply move the points from the two to-be-closed accounts to the one that you’re keeping open.
      Log in.
      Go to Ultimate Rewards.
      Hover mouse over your point total and a menu should drop down.
      Select “Combine Points”

  42. If I buy home depot gift cards from office max with Ink card, and then go through a shopping portal to buy supplies online using that gift card, will I still get the portal bonus? Wasn’t sure since my gift card will effectively bring my “total spent” to $0. Thanks for your help and love the quick deals!!

  43. Greg, in the past, I asked you how to continue to use kiva when PayPal was shut down. You said withdraw using check and pay using guest checkout. Thanks for the tip. It worked for me for a while, but PayPal has a limit on how much money you can pay via guest checkout for each credit card. So it was not sustainable. I was wondering how did you get around that so that you can keep paying using flexperk. Many thanks!

    • I’ve never encountered a limit with using PayPal to make Kiva loans. I don’t do guest checkout anymore. I simply click the link that says something like “pay with a gift card or credit card”.

      • hmmm, that’s what I did too. I clicked “pay with a gift card or credit card” and entered my credit card information. For each credit card, the first a few payments went through just fine. After reaching a few thousand $$s, the website will say “the card can not be used for this payment”, and I will have to switch to another credit card. Were you able to pay more than a few thousand dollars on one card? If so, how spread out the payments are? Want to figure out if there is a certain limit per day or week so that I can fly under the radar. Thanks!

        • Now that I think about it, I have had that happen. I just switched to an authorized user card with a different account number. I thought the problem was due to me trying to use a card that was registered to a PayPal account that has been shut down. I haven’t yet had this happen with my FlexPerks card (which was never registered to PayPal).

  44. I am wondering if you have any trouble with large purchases through the portals. I flip houses and was buying sears gift cards and then buying appliances packages (double dipping). But every time I run a large purchase 2,000 or so and up. I have to fight for the miles, no records on there end, it’s like it’s a scam or something.

  45. I upgraded my AMEX to a PLAT back in 1/2012 and kept it until 9/2014 when I downgraded to a AMEX Green Card. I received a targeted email offering 50K MR with 5K spend over 3 months. I read everywhere and there is no mention of not having the card before or getting a bonus before anywhere in the email or webpage it directs to.

    Can targeted offers override the “policy”???

  46. FM,
    Will the 5/24 rule affect my ability to be added as an authorized user onto my wife’s sapphire preferred or ink plus? (I exceed 5/24, not her). That seems like an indirect way of keeping my points transferable to outside programs. Otherwise, I may need to stop churning for almost 2 years. Thanks!!

  47. Wow I am really overwhelmed trying to find a use for Citi Thankyou points. I am needing to book flights for 4 people from phl to pvr or bwi to pvr. I am not sure how to go about doing it. on southwest it is super easy with my chase points, it’s only 79k points, but trying to figure out how to do it with citi points is really hard. I only have 65k citi points so I will have to pay, but can’t figure out if it is worth it or should I just fly SW and use the citi points for something else? Thanks for any help you can give me. or even point me to a forum where I can get some info.

    • Have you tried logging into your ThankYou account to search for flights there? If no good options show up there, then yes I would recommend using your SW points and keep the Citi points for future travel.

      • I did it seems like they limit the actual flights that are available and the rates were not favorable. Is that usually the best way to use the points? The value is only 1.25 cents vs the sw are usually 2.5

        • Southwest is usually about 1.5 cents per point.
          I don’t think Citi does it intentionally, but it is true that their flight search isn’t very good and often doesn’t find the best options.

  48. Hello! Can you get the sign up bonus for both the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card and the Citi Hilton HHonors reserve card within a short amount of time? It’s my understanding that you have to wait 18 months to receive a sign up bonus after canceling one card, but I’m wondering if I can apply for both of these cards within the next few months, and receive the 75,000 point offer, as well as the 2 free nights? Thanks for any info!

  49. Hi FM,

    Just want to let you know that there is one more round of Bluebird shutting down started today. I just received an email that I can’t load anymore my Blue bird which I had for a couple of months.

    I opened it in January after Redcard fail and I totally did about $5K in three months. Very slow usage and sometimes had money in the card for long periods. But nothing worked. Just one more data point, I never had Serve – First BB, then closed it to open Redbird and closed it to open BB and now shut down.

    It seems there is no pattern, Amex just does it to all!

  50. FM, today I received a email from Southwest saying that I can earn 35% more points with buy, transferring and gifting. So I was wondering if you get 35% more when you transfer from chase to SW? If so would this scenario be possible. Transfer points from Chase account to wifes SW account (earn 35%) gift points from wifes SW account to my SW account (earn another 35%)?

  51. Hi Greg,
    Are you aware of any of the “normal” travel programs available for travel in the United States, which would allow your miles or points to be used to rent a car within the USA?
    Thanks for your help,
    Freeman Grover

  52. Hi,

    Have you seen the news that HNA will purchase Club Carlson hotels? What do you think the impact will be on the Club Carlson program?

  53. Morning Greg – thanks for your help on a number of issues in the past – great information on your site. I have a new question – do you know of programs (such as Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles) that allow transferring of miles to the Hilton HHonors points program?

    • Yes, but since Hilton points are worth so little (on a per point basis), I don’t generally recommend transfers.
      You can transfer the following points to Hilton at a 2 to 3 ratio (e.g. 2 points becomes 3 Hilton points):

      Amex Membership Rewards
      Citi ThankYou Rewards
      Virgin Atlantic Elevate miles

      Also, Amtrak points can be converted 1 to 2, but you have to have Amtrak elite status or spend $20K with their credit card in a calendar year to be allowed to do that transfer.

  54. Dear FM,

    I have my brother and his wife coming to the US for a visit. They would like to get a US credit card each to use here. What would be the best card of mine that they could use as authorized users? I have tons of cards of all flavors. I have no trust issues with them using my accounts.

    Alternatively, what card would be easy to get quickly and be useful for for about 3 weeks? Maybe get the bonus pointed to my FF account ?

    • There are so many possibilities it’s hard to know where to start. First, look through the table titled “Best of the Best” at the top of my Best Offers page. Except for Chase Ink cards which seem to take forever for approval, most new cards would arrive pretty quickly.

      A potentially great option would be the Citi Prestige card since it offers bonus points on things that visitors are likely to use: 3X airfare, hotels, and travel agencies; 2X dining and entertainment. The Premier would be even better for bonus categories, but there is no current signup bonus for it.

      If you prefer cash, the Discover It Miles card may be the best bet for its first year doubling of all cash back. So you’ll get 3% cash back across the board.

      Feel free to email me to ask about more specific ideas. Greg at

  55. This is a data point for American Express cardholders working on their minimum spends. I applied and was approved for the MB Plat card recently. There were serious delays, and my card arrived about 3 weeks after it should have because of “problems with the plastic and a higher response for the card than expected.” When I complained to AmEx about losing several weeks to meet the card’s minimum spend, I was told that all AmEx cards allow for an extra 18 days past the approval date to meet the spend. The rep. said that not all reps. know this, but that all managers do. Just passing this on in case it helps anyone or is useful for a future post.

    As an aside, thanks for providing such a thorough list of credit card offers. Also, I’m not sure if it’s just my browser, but the credit card offers master page/list seems to have some errors and doesn’t show images of cards anymore.

  56. I see availability for Swiss Business Awards from New Orleans via Chicago to Zurich on UNITED, but not on AEROPLAN. I want to book with Aeroplan Miles. Is that possible since not showing on AEROPLAN?

  57. Will I qualify for the citi a advantage consumer card bonus if it’s been more than 24 months since I closed my last one but less than 24 months since I closed a citibusiness advantage card? Thank you.

    • Yes, that should work. The consumer and business cards are considered separate products
      Unfortunately, with Citi’s new rules, it won’t work. See my update comment
      Back to the original answer but for a different reason: Yes, that should work because CitiBusiness AA cards do not affect consumer AA cards.

    • UPDATE: Citi has published new rules within their applications. They now limit, not by car, but by brand. This means that if you open or cancel any Citi AA card, then you’ll have to wait 24 months before opening a new Citi AA card if you want another bonus. This also applies to Hilton cards and Citi ThankYou cards.

      But, with AA cards, Citi explicitly states that CitiBusiness cards are considered separately.

  58. United shows business swiss award available. Before transferring points from UR to United, I checked both Aeroplan and ANA. They show the award flights available only in economy. Should I not book on United because it is phantom? I really want this flight, is there any way to assure a business class seat when booking on United?

  59. Hi Greg, I don’t understand the current rules for Delta credit cards. Ok I understand it’s once per lifetime, but are they grouping the cards together. If I have had the Delta gold card can I still get the Platinum and receive the sign up bonus? How about the Business cards?
    Thanks Jim

  60. New Amex offers…undercover tourist, seasons 52 (good for any Darden restaurant), McCormick & schmick (Landrys restaurants)

  61. Hi,

    Thanks for all the great content. Here’s an idea for a blog post. In one of your emails you say “It’s not unusual for a person to earn 200,000 or more points in a single “churn” (…) every 3 or 4 months!”

    I have been getting lots of credit cards starting this year, but after just six months or so I feel like I have gotten them all. I got all the best cards from the major airlines and hotels.

    So, how can I keep getting points like it seems so many of you more experienced folks do?



  62. Hi Greg, with CPC can I apply online and contact my banker if I go pending or do I need to apply in-branch with him? New to Private Client.

    Awesome pics with Sir Richard!!


    • You can apply in branch or at home. If pending you can call recon on your own. Reasons to apply in-branch: sometimes they have better offers; and sometimes the banker can help if you are denied (especially with business cards)

  63. Do you happen to know if the Citi Double Cash Back works on gift cards? Have googled around and can’t find anything. Thank you!

  64. Good morning Greg! I have read of a number of taxes that we can pay using a credit card. Since we are approaching the end of the calendar year, most people with personal property will soon be receiving their property tax bills. Do you know of a any way to pay personal property tax using a credit card?

  65. Hi Greg,
    I got to meet yup at a FTU earlier this year. You mentioned that you or others use meetup to meet other points/miles enthusiasts. I’m from the MetroDetroit area and would love to meet others in the hobby. Any suggestions how to do this?


  66. Hi. I’ve heard one can book Singapore air for NYC-TLV I would like to know how to to that (to avoid UA close in fees. trying to lv 11/15/16) I couldn’t see how on their site. I really need MEM(memphis)-TLV but could do the first leg separately if nec. thx!

  67. Hi Greg(or Shawn)

    I was wondering if you could do a side by side comparison of the benefits of the current hotel point transfer bonuses to American,United and AirCanada. I have lots of Marriott/SPG points and am thinking maybe to max each offer out with the 7 nights Hotel/flight packages. You know,,diversify ;o)
    Looks like they are all close to 270k Marriotts will get me 150k(ish) in each, plus the 7 nights. Curious of any sweet spots that I may be missing. Like 110k R/T w/AC in BUS N/America-Europe is better than 140k R/T w/UA(partner) in BUS N/America-Europe. Mind you,,transferring to AK would be great for return to Asia at only 100k,,using no 20/30% bonus!

    Anyways, a little guidance would be great,,Thanks.

    • That’s a tough one! With United you can be sure to avoid fuel surcharges, but you’ll pay more miles than with Air Canada. American miles can be good for flights to Asia or central/south America, and occasionally to Europe if you can find an alternative to BA. Maybe the tie breaker should have more to do with the left over points after you book an award… Do you have transferable points that can top you off for a second award? e.g. if you have lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, then United may be the best bet since you can freely move UR points to United. If you have MR, then Air Canada. If you have SPG then you can transfer to AA, or do the entire loop again: SPG -> Marriott -> Travel Package -> ???

      • Thanks Greg. Ya,,I guess I’m splitting hairs since I have extra points in all those. Maybe I’ll do one of each. Oops,,I meant AS not AK. Guess I missed the deadline for AA’s offer ;o(

        Thanks again!

  68. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, if I were to apply now, does the annual $300 travel credit have to be claimed by the end of this calendar year, or will it be 2017?

  69. Hi I just want to share this Promo:
    No Purchase Fees and
    Free Expedited Shipping: Code CYBEML
    No purchase fees on Gift Cards with promo code CYBEML. Plus, free expedited shipping on all orders (up to $8.95). Purchase fee promotion and free shipping offer expire 12/4/16. See more.

  70. I just wanted to ask a question.

    Can the AMEX offer for Harry & David be used at to purchase gift cards and be triggered successfully? I wanted to ask around before I gave it a try.


    • Great question! Yes, it should work. The terms of that offer say:
      “Offer valid at,,,,,,, and”

  71. Is there a way to share a 50k Southwest referral with the broader community if the referral email is an “Invite Friends” email that requires me to provide Southwest with the email addresses of the folks I wish to refer?

  72. Hi Greg – My wife and I just applied for several BOA biz cards to stay under 5/24, but my wife received an unusual response from BOA that I’m curious if you’ve seen before. All BOA applications went pending and I was later called with questions about my businesses. My questions were standard and all three of my BOA biz apps were approved over the phone. However, my wife received 3 identical letters requesting extremely detailed information including 2 years of tax returns for the businesses, proof of business ownership or authorization to borrow, and verification of the legal structure of the business. She called the number on the back of the letter, but they were not able to approve without these documents. Have you encountered this before?

  73. My brother took a 2-year gig in Japan recently. I plan on taking some family members that meet the 5/24 rule to get Sapphire Reserve cards before they go away, but then what would you recommend as the best use of those 100,000 UR points plus the travel credits from the card with the goal of a round trip flight either from Japan to the Midwest (ORD or MSP), or vice-versa?

    • If you transfer the points to United Airlines, you should be able to find economy award seats for 70,000 points round-trip. Or, better yet, if you find flights priced at $1,050 or less, you can go through Chase Ultimate Rewards to purchase the flights with points for 70K points or less. That way you may save points plus those flying can earn miles for the flight. Plus, you can adjust the payment so that $300 is paid in cash instead of with points so that you can get the $300 travel credit right away.

  74. Hi Greg,

    Thanks for all your great work in the blog. Quick question. I have a Citi Premier and Prestige card. I would like to cancel the Premier card before renewal, but as you know here are expiration I the points even if you combine accounts. Could I use the points in Premier to buy an AA refundable ticket, close the account, then cancel the ticket for a cash or gift card refund on AA? If not, any other suggestions for the points.

    • Best bet is to convert the Premier card to a no fee Preferred card. That way the points stay alive and you can still use them for better value with your Prestige card either by pooling the accounts or by transferring the points to your Prestige account when you are ready to use them (up to 100K points per year can be moved between accounts)

  75. Hi Greg,
    Long time reader. Just a quick question, you recently stopped sending out via twitter a daily recap on any increases in portal multipliers (I believe it was through evrewards). Any suggestion on how your readers can find out this information or perhaps you post it elsewhere and I have just not been able to find it.
    Thanks as always

  76. Hi Greg,

    Not sure if you are already aware that Amex might be having a large-scale problem with its welcome bonus posting. It’s been a couple of statements since meeting the spending requirement for my SPG card (organic spend), and yet the bonus starpoints have not posted. I was just told by an Amex representative that the bonus points are not showing up in the system despite the fact that I met all the requirements, and that they have recently become aware of such occurrences which impacted many customers. This is quite different from their answers for my calls a few weeks ago on this problem, when they just cited terms and conditions, and asked me to wait.

    I wonder if you have started seeing any large-scale welcome bonus issues with Amex?

      • Unfortunately not. After Amex failing all of their self-imposed deadlines and getting nowhere with their customer service, I took the matter to their Executive Office and the CFPB. Received an official reply in response to the complaints acknowledging the offer, while stating that they “have identified an issue”. Now they imposed a new deadline for the middle of September (!). Good that I’m not in any particular hurry for the Starpoints. I do feel rather curious what “the issue” could be that is so difficult to fix.

      • OK, the good news is that I finally got the 35k Starpoints from Amex, though it took 5 months and two CFPB complaints. Amex of course failed their mid-September deadline in their official response to my first CFPB complaint for posting the points. So after going nowhere with them on the phone, I filed a second CFPB complaint with their response letter to the first one attached. A few days after, the points posted to my account.

        From what I saw online, it seems that this problem happened to people who signed up from referrals. It appears that in this situation, while their system was displaying the 35k offer on the front end, the back end really didn’t have this offer. And so making the points post requires manual adjustment from Amex, which apparently is something they are very reluctant to do.

  77. Hello.

    I’m about to buy restaurant, which I expect the food cost to be around $300000 a year. I wonder what would you rather have 300000 spg or 450000 URs from freedom unlimited?
    I only travel to Thailand once a year.
    Though there is no freedom unlimited for business I’m not sure if it ok to use personal card for business expense.
    Also, can I have multiple business blue plus cards? I rather earn 2 MRs than spg and 1.5 URs.

    Thank you!

    • I value 1 SPG vs 1.5 Ultimate Rewards about equally. It really depends on which programs and transfer partners you’re more likely to use. With the current ability to move SPG 1 to 3 to Marriott, I’d probably go with SPG. Plus, you can actually get a SPG business card so that’s better for your business expenses.

      You can get multiple Blue Business Plus cards if you have multiple businesses. I’m not sure if you can with a single business.

      How about this:
      Spend first $50K on Blue Business Plus, then spend the rest on SPG

    • Sort of building on Greg’s advice (it depends on which transfer partners interest you), I’m going to throw an alternative method of analysis at this: You know where you want to go, so how do you want to get there and where do you want to stay?

      In your case, I think the best thing for you to do is figure out who flies to Thailand and which routes you’d prefer from where you live.

      Bangkok is heavily serviced by Star Alliance carriers — Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Thai Airways, Asiana, ANA, Air China, Air India, Austrian, Ethiopian, EVA, Swiss, and Turkish all fly into Bangkok. OneWorld has some options, but availability can be harder to come by on Qantas and Finnair. In my experience (flown to and through BKK a number of times), I’ve always found availability on something to BKK with Star Alliance due to the sheer number of flights. With UR, you could transfer to United and book flights with tons of routing options. Having Ultimate Rewards also gives you Singapore as a transfer partner, and that’s a great option as well. You would have Singapore as a partner with SPG or Membership Rewards as well, but with SPG you’re earning at a lower ratio (1.25 per $1 if you transfer in 20K increments…and your award might not cost an increment of 20K).

      Furthermore, with Ultimate Rewards, you’ve got Korean as a transfer partner, and they are known to have a lot more availability for their own members. However, you will only be able to book flights for yourself and immediate family — if, for example, you were looking to bring an unmarried partner or someone else, you wouldn’t be able to get their ticket with your Korean miles (workaround would be adding them as an AU to transfer URs to their Korean acct, so not impossible).

      On the other hand, if you want to fly Emirates to get there, I think you’d be better off with SPG in order to transfer to Alaska or JAL. The other advantage with SPG is the ability to transfer to both American and Delta. With American, I think the only option that opens for is Cathay Pacific. So the advantages I see for SPG in your case are just if you want to fly Emirates or Cathay and if you want to stay in SPG/Marriott properties (and those certainly can be a deal in SE Asia, so that may be a strong consideration….on the other hand, cash prices in SE Asia are correspondingly lower, so getting 1.5cpp our of Ultimate Rewards (assuming you pair that Freedom with a CSR) might be just as valuable.

      Unless…you plan to stay in one hotel for 7 nights in Thailand. Then, you might want to consider that SPG strategy a second time. We’ve written quite a bit about Marriott Travel packages. 90K Starpoints will get you 270K Marriott points — which is good for 120K miles in many programs (132K United) plus a 7-night stay. When there is a transfer bonus (like the 35% bonus with Aeroplan right now), you might get 150K+ airline miles plus a 7-night stay for each 90K Starpoints. Now you’re earning 1.67 airline miles per dollar PLUS getting a 7-night stay. That’s compelling — if there is a Marriott you want to spend 7 nights at in Thailand. I stayed at the Bangkok Renaissance a couple of years ago and I think Greg did as well and I would definitely go back there for a week — it was nice, the lounge was decent, and I love Bangkok. With 300K Starpoints, you could easily find a transfer partner to fly a couple of people first class and have a couple of free rooms for a week if you wanted. Alternatively, SPG also has nights-and-flights awards where you could get a 5-night stay plus airline miles. It’s fewer miles in that instance.

      I think Amex Membership Rewards is also a great option. If you’re using a Business Platinum, purchases over $5K earn 1.5X. So after you max out your 2X bandwidth on the Blue Business Plus, you can still get 1.5X on your large purchases. That gives you ANA as a transfer partner, which may be advantageous due to their distance-based chart (if you’re based on the west coast) and round-the-world awards (if you decide you do want to visit a couple of places).

      With all three currencies, you get Flying Blue as a transfer partner as well, which gives you the possibility of the SkyTeam partners that fly to Thailand as well (Air France, China Eastern, Korean, a couple of others).

      The issue with Membership Rewards is that they aren’t really useful towards hotels. Both SPG and UR are much better if you’re looking to cover both flights and hotels for your trip to Thailand.

      I think if I were in your shoes, I would take an Ultimate Rewards approach as it gives you access to plenty of transfer partners to fly on a large chunk of the airlines that service BKK and it also gives you the ability to transfer to Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG if a good PointBreaks deal comes up in Thailand.

      If you asked me, “Would you rather have 300K Starpoints or 450K Ultimate Rewards”, it’s a tight race — but I think I’d say that I’d rather have the Starpoints. But when you add the fact that you’re just looking to go to Thailand once a year, I think the Ultimate Rewards win — unless you can take advantage of the Marriott Travel Packages or SPG nights and flights. That’ll take some more time and research for you to figure out. It also might depend on your home airport and which carriers service it / how you’d get to Thailand (is it going to take 4 connections? Are you willing to do that? etc.). Nobody flies direct to Thailand from the continental US.

      Best of luck with the restaurant and your decision-making process!

      • Thank you very much for replying! My airport base is LAX, so I think it works for all rewards. After reading all your advice, I feel that SPG might be the best choice. URs is good for hotel, but I feel that redeeming those URs for IHG, Hyatt, and Marriott are not that good since I think in Thailand, paying cash pay should be better. I look at the redemption for Hyatt, the their mile only worth only 1 cent. Plus, I felt horrible to transfer URs to IHG and Marriott. It feels like i trade Mercedes to Toyota.

        Also, I think the business platinum is not working for me since mostly the purchases are usually around $3000. I like MRs because of ANA since I rather paying more cash and less mile. “110000 MR + $500 fuel” is better than paying 160000 URs(united redeeming for business) in my opinion, and I also could book for my family for ANA.(I don’t know if it’s going to be a problem to proof since me and my mother use different last name)

        In term of Airlines, to get there, I looked at Alaska, I need 130000 to redeem for JAL, so around 106666 SPG vs 160000 for united(which I need to spend around $100000 to get those, so I kinda agree that 1 SPG is equal to 1.5 URs). However, in term of hotel, I think SPG is slightly better than the rest. However, I think I will travel with my mother, so I heard that Alaska does not allow family pooling for book award flight for someone else, so this is a problem. So I might doing 100000 for MR for ANA redeeming for my mother and the rest to SPG.

        To be honest, I like Peninsula and Shagri-La than others but it seem there are no transfer partners. (I want to try mandarin oriental too, but it is kinda out of reach for me). As for Phuket, Chiang mai, or Krabi, I haven’t looked in to hotel brand yet, so if you have any recommendation, i appreciate it!

  78. Have you ever done a post on MagsForMiles? I get my wife’s people magazine subscription there. It costs 2200 miles for a year. I found the same subscription online for about $76 dollars. That’s roughly 3.4 cents per mile. That’s a pretty good conversion rate!

    • Thanks for the suggestion. No, I haven’t posted about that but it does seem to be a good deal if you were planning to pay for the subscription anyway. Even compared to a reduced rate of $49/year, 2200 miles is a good deal

  79. Hey Guys,

    Where is the best place to see a monthly view of Americans availability for super saver fares to places. I have seen it on here, but can’t seem to find where it comes from or how to replicate it.

    Thanks, Jay

  80. Hello
    I am holding US passport. I will be traveling Thailand next month, and I will fly from Thailand to transit at SHENZHEN CN, SZX airport for 5 hours before coming back to the US. Do you know if I need a visa for this 5 hours transiting? I get different answers for this question. Thank you.

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